Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #47

"Come One Come All To The Ugly Bug-Eyed Monster Ball"
February 1992

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Cerise

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At Excalibur's lighthouse, the bug-eyed alien removes its helmet, revealing a humanoid woman who introduces herself as Cerise. In Otherworld, an older member of the corps who claims to have known Brian's father points out how Roma manipulated the formation of Excalibur, prompting Brian to seek her out, something the disguised Corps member wanted. On Earth, Cerise is explaining that she is an adventurer who was thrown off course before landing at the lighthouse when another group of aliens arrives outside the building. On Otherworld, Brian storms into Roma's room, prompting her to confirm that Merlin is dead, and that she placed a jinx on Brian to encourage him to work with Excalibur. Angry at being manipulated, he demands that that she lift it, then declares he's going home. On Earth, Technet negotiates a deal with the newly-arrived aliens, joining their mercenary group. Now technically no longer Technet, they're free to leave Earth, whom the aliens declare will be destroyed in 78 hours. Shortly after they depart, Meggan & Rachel return, followed by Brian and Nightcrawler begins to fill them in on recent happenings, while in Ireland, Kitty, alongside Alistair, discovers a completely enclosed underground chamber, inside of which a human-sized body is moving around.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #5

"Blowback"
February  1992

In a Nutshell
Maverick debuts as Wolverine battles Omega Red.

Plot & Pencils: Jim Lee
Script: John Byrne
Inks: Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Bob Wiacek, Joe Rubinstein
Lettering: Tom & Lois
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editing: Bob Harras
Chiefing: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Alerted to the presence of Omega Red by Cerebro, the rest of the X-Men scramble in pursuit. Meanwhile, Gambit, Rogue, Beast & Jubilee manage to escape from the Hand just as the rest of the team arrives on the scene, but they're unable to rescue Wolverine. Elsewhere, Wolverine battles Omega Red, overseen by Matsu'o, Fenris, and Dr. Cornelius, who are trying to stimulate Wolverine's memory regarding the whereabouts of the Carbonadium Synthesizer. However, they, in turn, are being watched by a mysterious figure as well. Back at the X-Mansion, the X-Men split into squads, with the Gold team proceeding to meet with the Hellfire Club as planned while the Blue team goes after Wolverine, whom they've tracked to Berlin. A day later in Berlin, Wolverine manages to escape his restraints and flees, having flashes of a similar scene involving Omega Red in his past. He dives out a window and is rescued by Maverick, who had been waiting to make his move. Maverick then detects the arrival of the X-Men, just as Wolverine collapses into unconsciousness. In Malibu, Lila Cheney is trying to revive Dazzler's memory of the X-Men when Longshot suddenly appears, followed by Spiral. She tries to capture Longshot, but Lila teleports him & Dazzler away, as Mojo watches.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

X-aminations in July 2016...and Beyond!


The second half of 2016, covering roughly the first eight months of 1992, brings us almost right up to the start of "X-Cutioner's Song", the next linewide crossover event (and the first since the big linewide relaunch). Before then, the titles are mostly settling in after the shakeup of lates 1991, staying relatively self-contained (like X-Force and Spider-Man before, both X-Factor and X-Men get brief crossovers with non-X-books during this time), while Wolverine remains the only title to go bi-weekly in Marvel's last summer of double shipping certain titles.

But beneath the surface, big rumblings are happening, rumblings which will affect not only the X-books, but all of Marvel (and really, the industry as whole), as the first half of 1992 also marks the Image Exodus, as several of Marvel's top artists, including the regular plotters/pencilers of four of the six regular X-books, the very same creators to whom the keys to the kingdom were handed less than a year before, leave to form their own publishing company, Image Comics. In the wake of their departure, a new batch of creators scramble to maintain the energy and consistency of the line, a line whose sales are climbing ever higher, and which is on the verge of getting even bigger as the 30th anniversary of the X-Men approaches.

As always, sound off in the comments regarding any questions of placement or issues I may be missing. Things remain subject to change, but I'm hoping to keep the break before "X-Cutioner's Song" close to the end of the year, and I've worked in a couple of short weeks already to accommodate some travel and vacations and the like (next week I'm traveling for work, giving me an opportunity to do a long-overdue post on X-Men action figures; there's another short week at the beginning and end of August due to some vacation time, as well as the usual short breaks around Thanksgiving and Christmas).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x09: Battle of the Bastards


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Riverrun -> Winterfell ->The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen

Meereen
The Slave Masters are still attacking Meereen for God knows what reason. Tyrion says it's because they can't let a slave-free nation succeed. Apparently Westeros doesn't count as a success? Anyway, Daenerys has a solution. It's to burn them. Burn them all!

Tyrion talks Daenerys down saying that following in her father's footsteps may not be the best option. Instead, Daenerys, Tyrion, Missandei and Grey Worm meet with Slave Masters to discuss surrender. Naturally the Slave Masters thinks Daenerys is surrendering. But Daenerys would like the Slave Masters to surrender. The masters are all, "Why would we do that?" Even though the answer is obvious, dragons.

Yes, Daenerys has dragons. Guess what they're good at? Burning things. Guess what they burn? The Slave Masters' ships. What did they think would happen? How did these guys become masters of anything other than stupidity?

The sea war is won by dragons (although some ships are spared to be absorbed by Daenerys's army). The land war is won by the Dothraki army coming in to save the Meereen guards. With the outcome in no doubt, the Slave Master's guards high tail it out of there because it's not like they like the Slave Masters. This leaves two of three Slave Masters to be executed and the final one is left to speak of what has happened.

Later, Yara and Theon show up. Daenerys considers their offer of ships in exchange for claim to the Iron Island. She asks why she shouldn't accept Eurons offer but Yara notifies her that Euron's "giant" cock is also part of the deal whereas Yara would only give Daenerys similar services if requested. Daenerys agrees to the deal while she and Yara continue to flirt and dream of matriarchy.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Force in Focus: Ord Mantell

Early on in The Empire Strikes Back, Han offers up as explanation for his renewed concern over the price placed on his head by Jabba the Hutt a recent (offscreen) encounter with a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell. It's an example of one of the things that makes the Star Wars Universe so fun and captivating: the lived-in feel of the universe, the idea that the characters have adventures and experiences beyond the ones presented to us directly in the film. And, of course, lines of dialogue and references to other events like that are catnip to writers working in the universe in other media, offering them an opportunity to craft a story that fills in the details behind an otherwise offhand remark unimportant to the larger narrative of the movie.

Not surprisingly, then, the bounty hunter encounter on Ord Mantell has generated a fair share of Expanded Universe stories, and some clean-up was eventually done to clarify which one exactly represented the events referenced by Han. However, all of that was wiped out along with the rest of the Expanded Universe, and to date, no canonical depiction of the encounter currently exists. Here then is a list of the various stories that, at one time, offered up a potential glimpse at the events teased by Han's line of dialogue.

"The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell" - Comic Strip


Published from February through April in 1981 (and later released by Dark Horse as Classic Star Wars #1 and #2), this story by Archie Goodwin & Al Williamson was the first to present a pre-Empire encounter with a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell. The bounty hunter in question is Skorr, a humanoid, vaguely-alien cyborg hunter who made a few appearances throughout the Star Wars comic strip (with Goodwin using him as a recurring villain so as not to diminish the impact of the Emperor or Vader via repeated appearances in the strip). His plan involved kidnapping Luke & Leia and using them to lure Han to Ord Mantell.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x08: No One


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Riverrun -> Winterfell ->The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen

On the Road
The Hound is pissed! He goes off in search of some Brotherhood Without Banners members responsible for the slaughter of his community and, as luck would have it, he finds some of them hanging around a campfire practicing kissing. Literally!

The Hound walks up and axes them all to death fairly unceremoniously. Well, the final dude is kept alive long enough for the Hound to try and get information as to the whereabouts of the others responsible for the slaughter but the dude doesn't give up the goods. That just means he gets a good axing too.

The Hound then comes across Beric and Thoros of the Brotherhood Without Banners and they have the rest of the guys responsible for the slaughter in nooses. Beric wants to hang them because they're giving the Brotherhood a bad name and, also, they're shitty people. The Hound wants to kill them himself. There's some negotiation and, in the end, the Hounds got to kill two of them personally but it has to be by hanging and not by axing. The Hound likes axing but goes along with the hanging.

Later, Beric wants the Hound to join them. The Hound says he's not very religious but the promise of fighting ice zombies is enough for him to tag along. Besides, what else is he going to do?

X-amining X-Factor #75

"The Nasty Boys"
February 1992

In a Nutshell
X-Factor battles the Nasty Boys & learns the truth about Madrox.

Written: Peter David
Pencilled: Larry Stroman
Inked: Al Milgrom
Lettered: Michael Heisler
Colored: Glynis Olvier
Edited: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The Nasty Boys are watching news coverage of Strong Guy's arrest when they're visited by their boss, Mr. Sinister. At their headquarters, X-Factor confers with Moira MacTaggert, who helps verify Madrox's identity. They release the Madrox claiming their teammate is a rogue dupe, with their apologies. He proceeds to absorb the other Madrox, then meets with Edmond Atkinson, who turns out to be Mr. Sinister. Later, Quicksilver is examined by a doctor, who declares the problems with his powers are all mental, likely brought on by stress. Madrox arrives at the Nasty Boys' headquarters, where he's introduced to Senator Shaffran, thanking him for helping him gain control of the real Madrox at long last. Back at X-Factor's headquarters, the team discusses the results of Quicksilver's tests, and realizes someone is turning their powers against them, and likely did the same with Madrox, prompting the team to set out in search of him.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

X-amining X-Force #7

"Under the Knife"/ "X-Tenuating Circumstances"
February 1992

In a Nutshell
Cannonball is killed by Sauron.

Plot/Art: Rob Liefeld
Rob's Scripter: Fabian Nicieza
Rob's Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis
Rob's Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Rob's Editor: Bob Harras
Robs Banks: Tom DeFalco

Plot
First Story: As Siryn, Warpath & Shatterstar battle Toad, Blob & Sauron, Masque, Thornn & Phantazia infiltrate X-Force's base. Entering the hangar, they find the rest of the team waiting for them. Outside, Shatterstar locates a weapon cache and helps Siryn defeat Toad, while Blob falls into a ravine, and the three race back to their base. Inside, Feral & Thornn fight one another, while Cannonball flies into Phantazia, which disrupts his blast field. As Sauron enters the base looking for a new opponent, Cannonball approaches him, but his blast field is unable to prevent Sauron from skewering him through the chest with one of his wing talons, much to the horror of Boom-Boom, who cries out that he's dead.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #285

"Down the Rabbit Hole"
February 1992

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Colossus' brother Mikhail

Plot & Pencils: Whilce Portacio
Co-Plotter: Jim Lee
Script: John Byrne
Finishes: Art Thibert & Al Milgrom
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editing: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The X-Men emerge on the other side of the void, but are scattered. Colossus & Jean land in the midst of the armored rebels they fought on Earth, all of whom bow down before Colossus when he reverts to his human form, claiming the prophecy has been fulfilled. Elsewhere, Storm is rescued from the desert by a hooded man who grows upset when he learns the X-Men breached the portal. Elsewhere again, an unconscious Archangel helps a group of soldiers defeat rebels when his wings act of their own accord, earning the praise of the soldiers. Elsewhere yet again, Sunfire and Iceman fall through the roof of a tavern, while Storm & the stranger depart his home and Colossus & Jean arrive at the rebel base, where Colossus is received as a savior. Later, Iceman & Sunfire hear word of Colossus, while Archangel is received by Shar-har-a-zath, the worldy avatar of the Triumvirate, who names him their Lord Protector. Back at the rebel base, Jean and Colossus are suddenly joined by Storm and the stranger, who reveals himself as Colossus' brother. Back on Earth, Trish Tilby reports on Bishop's massacre of Fitzroy's allies, but a watching Bishop swears the future he knows will never come to pass.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x07: The Broken Man


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Riverrun -> Winterfell ->The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen

River Run
Walder Frey's army is at River Run castle that has been taken over by Blackfish. They show off Edmure and threaten to kill him if Blackfish doesn't surrender. Blackfish tells them to go ahead and kill him. Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers (yup, had to look those names up) realize that killing a hostage immediately renders the hostage useless so they decide against killing him. They're stumped as to what to do as an army comes up from behind them.

Fortunately for Frey's army and unfortunately for...well...everyone else it's Jaime (with Bronn!) and the Lannister's army coming to help Wlader Frey's army. Jaime tells Lothar and Walder they're idiots for writing checks their butt won't cash and then decides to have a parley with the Blackfish.

Jaime rides up to the castle entrance and a bunch of archers point arrows at him. They should kill him. Blackfish comes out not to kill Jaime but instead “size him up.” He should kill him instead. Jaime says he and the Lannister army are going to eventually win so the Blackfish can save a lot his men's lives by giving up. Which I assume means the Blackfish would be executed but his men would certainly be allowed live, right? Because the Lannisters and Freys are so trustworthy.

Anyway, Blachfish isn't impressed and dares Jaime to enter into a two years castle siege. How about instead of taunting Jaime Blackfish just kills him? Jaime is the only real threat. Whatever. Jaime trots off still alive and in one piece (well, minus the hand he lost so long ago but you know what I mean).

Force in Focus: Star Wars #38

"Riders in the Void!"
August 1980

In a Nutshell
Luke & Leia encounter an extragalactic ship and its strange captain.

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Plotter/Penciler: Michael Golden
Inker: Terry Austin
Colorist: Michael Golden
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Assistant Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Attacked by Imperial ships in the middle of a supply run, Luke & Leia jump to Hyperspace to escape, but damage to their ship causes them to end up in the starless void beyond the galaxy. Suddenly, a massive, glowing organic ship appears, and swallows their craft whole. Exploring the ship, the pair separates, and Luke duels with some kind of training robot before the ship opens a hole into space, nearly sending Luke & Leia to their deaths. But their love for another speaks to the captain of the ship, the last survivor of a massive war, who has become fused to the ship and its computer. The captain brings them back to their galaxy, appearing before the Star Destroyer that attacked them. The Imperials attack the strange ship, but the captain fights back, easily defeating them. With the area safe, Luke & Leia reboard their vessel, and the captain, who finds this galaxy too reminiscent of what happened in his own past, returns to riding in the void.

Friday, June 17, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #50

"Dreams of Gore: Phase 3"
January 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine learns his memories have been altered as he battles Shiva.

Script: Lethal Larry Hama
Pencils: Murderous Marc Silvestri
Inks: Dangerous Dan Green, with help from Hilary Barta & Tom Palmer
Lettering: Punishing Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Stompin' Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
With Forge's help, Wolverine tracks down the refueling SHIELD helicarrier and strong-arms Nick Fury into handing over his security dossier. The transfer of those files catches the attention of a Hydra cell. Thanks to information in the files, Wolverine, accompanied by Cyclops, Jean Grey, Jubilee and Professor X, goes to a warehouse in Windsor, Canada. He enters the building alone, watched by both Hydra and Professor Thorton. Inside, he finds sets that correspond to many of his memories, while Professor Thorton activates the Shiva scenario, which brings forth a massive robot programmed to kill Wolverine. He destroys the robot, but the Shiva program is designed to learn from its defeats and powers up another body. This one proves harder to destroy, and as Professor Thornton watches the battle, he's attacked by the leader of the Hydra cell, a very-much-alive Silver Fox. As they fight, Shiva triggers all of Wolverine's memories, overwhelming him. He manages to snap out of it, insisting he's a man, not a beast, but Silver Fox realizes her memories were tampered with a well. She kills Professor Thorton just as Wolverine destroys the latest incarnation of Shiva. Joined by the X-Men, he discovers Thorton's body, and learns that Shiva has moved on to target the next name on its list: Sabretooth. Wolverine could care less though, about him and the other mutants on Shiva's list, a change in attitude that Professor X finds unsettling.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #46

"Colin the Barbarian"
January 1992

In a Nutshell
Kylun comes to Earth while Rachel & Meggan's quest comes to an end.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Kylun & Sa'tneen manage to defeat Necrom's zombie Excalibur, but Necrom slays Sa'tneen in the process. Enraged, Kylun chases Necrom into the Tower That Crosses Time and emerges before a shocked Nightcrawler in Excalibur's bathroom. After learning Nigthcrawler speaks English and seeing Widget, Kylun realizes he's returned to his homeworld. Meanwhile, in France, Meggan & Rachel battle a pair of illusory monsters crafted by two elderly brothers who are harnessing the power of a captive Neuri. As Kylun tells Nightcrawler of how he came to Ee'rath and expresses fear that Necrom is looking to establish a new empire on this world, Meggan & Rachel learn the Neuri, not Meggan's parents, is the being they've been tracking. Taking them into the Alshira, the Neuri shows Meggan her true form, and explains that while she didn't find her parents, their journey wasn't a complete loss, as both she and Rachel have found a sense of identity in the process. As the Neuri dies, Meggan returns to her previous form, saying it's the one she chooses to take, and the two fly for home. Back at the lighthouse, a sudden explosion heralds the arrival of a large, bug-like alien.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #4

"The Resurrection and the Flesh"
January 1992

In a Nutshell
Omega Red attacks the X-Men.

Plot & Pencils: Lee
Script: Byrne
Inks: Williams
Letterer: Orzechowski
Colorist: Rosas
Editor: Harras
Editor-in-Chief: DeFalco

Plot
On an island in the South Pacific, the Hand, overseen by Matsu'o Tsurayaba, resurrect Omega Red, sacrificing twenty-five lives to bring him out of his hibernation. At the X-Mansion, Gambit, Jubilee, Wolverine & Rogue play basketball while Moira grapples with the fallout of Magneto's death and the revelation of her previous manipulation of him. Feeling she's failed Xavier and the X-Men, she decides to leave the school. In Berlin, Matsu'o meets with Fenris, telling them the resurrection of Omega Red was successful. Back in New York, Gambit & Rogue leave to go on a date, accompanied by Beast, Wolverine & Jubilee. They are attacked along the way by the Hand, and manage to hold their own, until Omega Red enters the fray. His mutant death factor knocks out the rest of the team as he confronts Wolverine, who recognizes him as a man named Arkady. Later, the Hand, disguised as paramedics, load the unconscious X-Men into an ambulance. Moira approaches the scene in a cab, but distraught, refuses to even look at the scene, and tells the driver to keep going.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Five, The Wrap-Up


By 1997, NYPD Blue had been a solid hit for four years, leaving Steven Bochco and David Milch as in-demand TV producers, with offers coming in from every network.  Fall 1997 saw the debut of two new Milch/Bochco co-creations, Total Security on ABC and Brooklyn South on CBS.  Total Security didn’t even air the contracted thirteen episodes, and died a quiet death on Saturday evening television.  I have only a vague idea of what the show was supposed to be about, and I doubt there’s anywhere online where you can watch the series.  The opening credits are on Youtube, however, and boy does this show look horrific.  (It did feature Dexter’s dad, though.)


Monday, June 13, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x06: Blood of My Blood


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Winterfell -->The Wall -> Braavos -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

Way The Hell Up North
Bran and Meera are running away from the ice zombie horde that were momentarily inconvenienced by Hodor's (presumed?) sacrifice. While Meera is doing her best to save their asses Bran is busy hallucinating the past. We get our first glimpse of the the Mad King, a dragon, a Ned beheading, white walkers and, of course, Bran falling from that Winterfell tower. I'm glad Bran is picking up the slack and being a dick to himself!

So Meera's trying to run from ice zombies whilst carrying Bran and it's going about as well as you'd expect. Just when all hope seems lost they're saved by a mysterious stranger. The stranger doesn't stay mysterious for long because if you're talking about a mystery man north of the Wall we all know it's going to be Benjen Stark. And it is! But he's looking a little...frosty.

Apparently Benjen got “infected” by the white walkers. The Children of the forest saved him so now he's some kind of half-breed, daywalker or whatever. I dunno, but hopefully he has super powers!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Force in Focus: The House of Tagge

One of the more engaging elements in the (roughly) first third of Marvel's original Star Wars series has been the House of Tagge, a family of wealthy mining industrialists with connections to and enough money & power to rival the Empire, along with at least a few personal grudges against notable characters. Yet every time one of them would pop back up in an issue after a few away, I'd have to run to Wookiepedia to look up which Tagge it was and how they related to the current canonical one. Now, with the Tagge family having mostly exited the stage in anticipation of the Empire Strikes Back adaption, I'm going to try to lay out all the Tagge family info in one place, for my benefit as much as yours.

Canon
Let's start simple: according to current Star Wars canon (which consists of the seven films, The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, a handful of recent novels, and all comics published by Marvel since their reacquisition of the license), there is only one Tagge, General Cassio Tagge.


He appeared in A New Hope (played by Don Henderson), and was considered to have died aboard the Death Star, until Darth Vader #1 revealed he survived (having left the station before it exploded - the character not appearing in scenes set aboard the station in the latter half of the film) and was elevated to the rank of Grand General by the Emperor, and given personal control over Darth Vader for a period of time.

Friday, June 10, 2016

X-amining X-Factor #74

"Politically Incorrect"
January 1992

In a Nutshell
Strong Guy fights Slab

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Larry Stroman
Inks: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Coloring: Glynis Oliver
Repeated Phone Calls to Peter & Larry: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chiefing: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Late at night, Alex awakens from a dream to find Rahne perched at the end of his bed. The next morning, he, Lorna, Rahne and Guido are called to X-Factor headquarters, while Ricochet meets with his shadowy ally, then says goodbye to his family before heading off to the Senate. At X-Factor HQ, the team meets with the lie detector expert, Val's ex-husband Edmond Atkinson, just as word comes in that a lunatic has taken hostages at the Washington Monument and is calling out Strong Guy. X-Factor arrives on the scene, and Strong Guy confronts the hostage taker, a massive mutant named Slab, who declares he's rigged the monument to explode. Havok has Quicksilver check for explosives, but he collapses outside the building due to the strain of his powers. Back at X-Factor's headquarters, Edmond declares that the Madrox who didn't join X-Factor is the real one, and Val releases him with her apologies, much to the dismay of the other Madrox. Back at the monument, Wolfsbane finds the collapsed Quicksilver, just as Strong Guy's battle with Slab brings the monument crashing down. Amidst the rubble, Ricochet appears as Senator Steve Shaffran, declaring he wants X-Factor arrested.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

X-amining X-Force #6

"Under the Gun"
January 1992

In a Nutshell
The new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants partners with the Morlocks, then attacks X-Force.

Plot/Art: Liefeld
Script: Nicieza
Letters: Eliopoulis
Colors: Buccellato
Editor: Harras
Editor-in-Chief: DeFalco

Plot
As Stryfe surveys the current notable players in mutant affairs, assuring Zero he and the MLF aren't out of the game yet, Toad and his new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants form an alliance with Masque and the Morlocks, and promise to take down X-Force for the Morlocks as a sign of respect for their new partnership. At X-Force's headquarters, Cable & Domino take a bath together, while Boom-Boom lays into Feral for attacking Cannonball during their recent training session. Outside, Warpath and Shatterstar spar with one another, as Siryn watches. But they're interrupted by the arrival of the Brotherhood. As Sauron attacks Shatterstar, Toad, Blob & Pyro set their sights on Warpath & Siryn, intending to show them what it means to confront the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #284

"Into the Void"
January 1992

In a Nutshell
The X-Men get sucked into an extradimensional void.

Plotted and Penciled: Whilce Portacio
Inked: Art Thibert
Scripted: John Byrne
Lettered: Michael Heisler
Colored: Oliver/Rosas
Edited: Bob Harras
Observed: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Adorned with new armor, Sunfire helps a team of Russian & Japanese scientists investigate a mysterious void near the Sakhalin Islands. Elsewhere, the X-Men are flying home from Fitzroy's destroyed base when Forge picks up a distress call from the scientists, and Storm tells him to redirect the Blackbird to respond. At the crater surrounding the void, Sunfire is battling three armored individuals who emerged as a result of his energy blasts just as the X-Men arrive and help turn the tide. Upon their defeat, the X-Men realize their foes are all human. One of them warns that the energy of the void is building, explaining they were trying to save the world by forcing everyone away from it. Just then, the void emits a massive blast, collapsing the crater as everyone is drawn into the void by a massive suction force. Monitoring in the Blackbird, Xavier tells Forge he can find no trace of the X-Men, and that if the vortex continues to expand, the world may well join them. Meanwhile, Bishop, Malcolm & Randall track down & kill two of the criminals Fitzroy transported from the future,. Bishop declares that if humankind has any hope of surviving, the three of them need to find and kill everyone Fitzroy brought into the present.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Five, The Cast & Guest Stars


There’s no getting around it, Season Five of NYPD Blue is the weakest season so far.  The series, which began as a character drama with some procedural elements, is now firmly a procedural, hitting virtually the same beats at the same time each episode.  It’s a show about cops chasing crooks, and for maybe two minutes an episode we’re granted a brief look into their personal lives.  Were it not for the utilitarian look of the show, and the unique rhythm of David Milch’s scripts, it’d be hard to distinguish this season from the 1,000 other crime procedurals currently airing on CBS.  Okay, maybe that is a little harsh...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #37

"In Mortal Combat"
July 1980

In a Nutshell
Darth Vader enacts his final vengeance on the House of Tagge.

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Gene Day
Colorist: Nel Yomtov
Letterer: John Costanza
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

Plot
Domina sends Luke & Darth Vader into the Crystal Valley for their duel, a dangerous location she hopes will kill them both. Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon, held hostage by Baron Tagge, approaches the valley, and Han uses the rough landing to retake the ship. Tagge rushes into the valley, where's he bested by Vader, who reveals that he's corrupted Domina as part of his revenge on Tagge. He begs Vader to kill him, but Vader says he has one more task for him. Shortly thereafter, Luke comes face to face with Vader, and they duel, with Luke sensing fear in Vader. Believing he can win, Luke overpowers his foe, only to realize too late that he was fighting Tagge, Luke's mind having been clouded by Vader. The dark lord reveals this as his final punishment for Tagge and a chance to test Luke, whom he finds wanting, but Luke manages to escape. Coming out of the valley, he finds Han and Leia waiting with Domina, who says that the Order of the Sacred Circle won't turn its influence against the Rebels, but her wrath will always be against Luke for killing her brother. Later, Jabba the Hutt learns of the destruction of Crimson Jack's ship, in which he had invested. With the ship's log blaming Han for the loss, Jabba reinstates the bounty on the smuggler's head, making the Rebellion the only place left where Han and Chewbacca are welcome once again.

Friday, June 3, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #49

"Dreams of Gore: Phase 2 (Remembrance ? Of Things Past ?)"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
Wolverine continues to explore his memories, risking his own sanity in the process.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Green/Barta
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
With the help of Professor X & Jean Grey, Wolverine continues to explore his long-hidden memories, including a mission in Cuba with Sabretooth, shortly after President Kennedy was assassinated. Suddenly, Jean and Xavier appear in his mind, telling him that each door he encounters represents blocks on his memories, and that not everything he experiences may be genuine. They caution him that his mind has been tampered with by experts, who have left traps throughout. Open too many doors they don't want opened, and he could end up becoming an animal. Undeterred, Wolverine continues, opening another door to revisit his and Sabretooth's attack on the gunrunners led by Silver Fox. Her interactions with him lead him to believe that their past together is another false memory. Suddenly, Jean and the professor bring him back to consciousness. Xavier is worried his exploration has brought out his more anti-social side, prompting Wolverine to insist he's a man, not an animal, and leave for some fresh air. But unknownst to him, he's being watched by Carol Hines. She reports to Professor Thornton, worried that Wolverine is close to discovering the truth, but the Professor insists that Wolverine's memories will only lead him to Shiva, and Shiva's only purpose is to kill him.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #45

"Nightcrawler's Technet"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
Nightcrawler leads Technet in investigating a series of museum thefts.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Technet, led by Nightcrawler, stakes out the Major Mainwaring Museum, on a tip from Miss Witherspoon, the clairvoyant friend of Inspector Thomas. They intervene when it appears a theft occurs, but it turns out to be Micromax, also staking out the museum on behalf of F.I. 6. But Technet's showing angers Nightcrawler, who wants them to act more like a team, and realizes he needs to give them a sense of group identity. Meanwhile, on Otherworld, the attack on Brian Braddock is called off on orders from Roma, He then learns more about the nature of his powers and Excalibur's lighthouse from Captain UK. Back on Earth, Rachel and Meggan continue their search for Meggan's parents, while Micromax stakes out another museum. When a necklace is seemingly stolen by an invisible otherdimensional being, Technet intervenes again, this time dressed in matching uniforms and working more like a team, and they manage to defeat the creature and stop the theft, much to the surprise of the creature's master. On Ee'rath, Kylun and Sa'teen reach the throne room of Necrom, the same person orchestrating the thefts on Earth, and he sets a resurrected, zombie-fied Excalibur against them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #3

"Fallout!"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
The death of Magneto & departure of Chris Claremont.

By: Chris Claremont & Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco


Plot
The Gold team races for Asteroid M, hoping to rescue Professor X and their brainwashed teammates before the plasma cannon fires. They manage to seemingly sneak aboard the station and reach Professor X, but they're then attacked by the Blue team. As the battle rages, the Blue team slowly seems to come to their senses, just as Magneto and his Acolytes intervene. But as Magneto suddenly collapses in pain, Wolverine appears with Moira, who explains that her attempt to modify Magneto's mind failed as soon as he used his powers, just as its failed on the X-Men during their battle, and that Cortez, who has fled the asteroid, hasn't been healing Magneto, only amplifying his powers to mask his injuries. Just then, the cannon fires, and Magneto uses the last of his strength to hold the asteroid together long enough for Xavier and the X-Men to flee. But the Acolytes refuse to leave, choosing instead to die with Magneto, and Xavier must be dragged to safety, refusing to abandon his old friend. As Magneto dies, he opens his mind to Xavier, insisting it's better that his dream die in this manner, giving Xavier his dream instead, even as he fears Xavier's heart will break when it fails him. As the X-Men return to Earth, Xavier speaks to the power of hope, insisting that the X-Men are obligated to try and create a better world than the one Magneto knew.